Healthy household habits can reduce water pollution

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Do you know what is going down your storm drain?

During rainstorms, car washes, pressure washings, and other watering activities, chemicals and other pollutants in driveways, streets and lawns flow untreated into the storm drain system and eventually into rivers, streams, lakes and groundwater.

One household may produce minimal amounts of pollutants but the combined quantity of pollution from everyone in the community may be cause for concern.

Residents can protect their storm water and ground water systems by practicing pollution prevention initiatives.

Healthy household habits to reduce water pollution include:

-- Use a commercial car wash or wash personal vehicles on a lawn or unpaved surface to minimize dirty, soapy water flowing into the storm drain. The Luke car wash is located at Building 247.

-- Check vehicles and equipment for leaks. Make repairs as soon as possible and clean spills with absorbent material like kitty litter or sand. Avoid rinsing the spills into a storm drain.

-- Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids. Avoid dumping chemicals on the ground, down a storm drain or in the trash. Base residents should perform auto repairs and maintenance at the Auto Hobby Shop located in Building 248. Lawn and garden

-- Avoid over fertilizing. The excess can leach into groundwater.

-- Use pesticides and fertilizers in recommended amounts. Avoid application during rainy weather.

-- Select native plants and grasses that are drought and pest resistant requiring less water, fertilizer and pesticides. Compost or recycle yard waste when possible.

-- Avoid over watering lawns. Water during the cool times of the day.

-- Cover piles of dirt and mulch to prevent them from blowing or washing into the storm drain. Vegetate bare spots in your yard to prevent soil erosion.

-- Clean up after pets and dispose of waste in the trash, toilet, or bury it at least five inches deep. Pet waste contains viruses and bacteria that can contaminate surface and groundwater. Home repair and improvement

-- Locate nearby storm drains and protect from debris. Create removable berms or use absorbent socks.

-- Sweep and properly dispose of construction debris such as concrete and mortar.

-- Minimize use of hazardous substances like paints, solvents and cleaners, and follow label directions. Store substances properly and clean spills immediately.

-- Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, and recycled products when possible. Baking soda or distilled white vinegar are safe and effective household cleaners and deodorizers.

By implementing pollution prevention initiatives when planning daily activities, surface and groundwater pollution can be minimized.

For more information about storm water pollution prevention, call Ms. Legg at (623) 856-4024.

Contact the Luke Hazardous Waste Manager at (623) 856-6501 or visit http://arizona.earth911.org to find out when and where to recycle or dispose of household hazardous waste.